It’s Just A Grassy Field With Numbers, But Each Number Hides A Life Story

It looks like an ordinary field, quiet and grassy. But look closer.

There are little numbered markers all over the place.


It turns out this field is the final resting place for over 5,000 people treated for mental illness. Each number is the grave of a patient whose name is lost. For now.

Retired schoolteacher Colleen Spellecy plans to change this.

You think mental illness has a stigma now? It used to be even worse.

The disdain people used to have for the mentally ill was so great that privacy laws were written to protect patients' families from the shame. That's why there are no names here, just numbers.

But these patients were living people, and in Spellecy's mission to uncover their identities and stories, she's run into a weird problem. New York State doesn't want to reveal the name that goes with each number because those ancient privacy laws still apply to the patients even after death. It's like an old rusty door that just can't be pulled open.


This a troubling example of how attitudes change, what happens when laws are written based on current opinions, and how our prejudices can cruelly haunt us for a very, very long time.

Here's the story of the mission to rescue these missing people from eternity.

More
Twitter / The Hollywood Reporter

Actress Michelle Williams earned a standing ovation for her acceptance speech at the 2019 Emmy Awards, both in the Microsoft Theater in L.A. and among viewers online.

As she accepted her first Emmy award for Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie for her role in FX's "Fosse/Verdon," she praised the studios who produced the show for supporting her in everything she needed for the role—including making sure she was paid equitably.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
'Good Morning America'

Over 35 million people have donated their marrow worldwide, according to the World Marrow Donor Day, which took place September 21. That's 35,295,060 who've selflessly given a part of themselves so another person can have a shot at life. World Marrow Donor Day celebrates and thanks those millions of people who have donated cells for blood stem cells or marrow transplants. But how do you really say thank you to someone who saved your life?

Eighteen-year-old Jack Santos wasn't aware that he was sick."I was getting a lot of nosebleeds but I didn't really think I felt anything wrong," Jack told ABC news. During his yearly checkup, his bloodwork revealed that he had aplastic anemia, a rare non-cancerous blood disease in which there are not enough stem cells in the bone marrow for it to make new blood cells. There are 300 to 900 new cases of aplastic anemia in America each year. It is believed that aplastic anemia is an auto-immune disorder, but in 75% of cases, the cause of the disease is unknown.

It wasn't easy for his family to see him struggle with the illness. "I didn't want to see him go through something like this," Shelby, his older sister, said. "It was terrifying, but we were ready for whatever brought with it at the time."

Keep Reading Show less
Family

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information

After over a hundred days protests and demonstrations over basic freedoms in Hong Kong, the city has been ground down both emotionally and economically. So, the government there is looking for leading PR firms to rehabilitate its somewhat authoritarian image with the rest of the world. Only one problem, they're all saying no.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy